This is our first installment of a monthly feature, for now I’m calling them “First Friday Interviews” because they will posted on the first friday of the month. Colleen and I brainstormed about who would make an interesting interview subject from Etsy. It took some narrowing down since Etsy is such a huge place. After bouncing around ideas we determined the criteria for Etsy Sellers should be that their shop is new, their work is exciting, and that they have a low number of sales in order to help spread the word about a new artist.
Well, we really out did it with this first Seller. Ryan Taylor of Kaptafa is all of those things and more. As you’ll see from our short interview, this guy really loves his work and has a real commitment to the global community to boot. Ryan has also offered to give-away a 10% off coupon to one of our readers! I wish I could take it myself! So check out his store, Kaptafa, and if you see something you’d love to purchase please leave a comment and add the word “drawing” to the end. We’ll enter you in a give-away and one reader will be selected randomly for the 10% off coupon.
So, sit back and enjoy my interview with Ryan, the woodworker from Kaptafa.
1. What is “Kaptafa,” and why did you choose it for your shop name?
Kaptafa means “last” and “tree” in Hungarian. I am half Hungarian with strong ancestral roots and once I considered kaptafa, I knew I had found my shop name.
I’ve been very fortunate to be able to travel extensively. My wife and I have traveled to over 60 countries together which has greatly influenced our collective style. As we travel I take notice of different techniques and constructs employed by artisans and architects, particularly with woodworking.
I’ve always been drawn to creating things in three dimensions, first with ceramics and later with wood. I mainly work in wood but am considering incorporating other media into my work. For me, wood is such an important medium because it is so universal. No matter what country you visit, wood is a significant means of artistic expression.
I am mostly self-taught, but I learned a lot from my grandfather. My grandfather was an accomplished woodworker and an architect by trade – he was an architect at the Vatican. Although he passed away while I was quite young, I spent a lot of time watching him work, and he left behind a number of books that I still refer to today. I use his old tools in my shop. Wood working for me is mostly problem solving. The ideas come very easily, but the execution is often difficult. But as each project progresses, I learn something new and am able to apply it to the next piece. I’ve been working with wood for about 10 years, on and off.
The idea for incorporating photography and wood came from my daughter. She was playing with a memory game that was mass produced and had such uninteresting images. It was a perfect way to make something meaningful as well as incorporate our many travels. There are a lot of ways to take the idea further by using pictures of family, or things that certain family members like (such as Grandma’s famous pecan pie). I like the idea of children being engaged with a puzzle that has meaning beyond just solving the puzzle.
4. You say your work is made for “the young and young at heart.” You mentioned in our emails that you started your Mariposa Series after making butterflies to decorate your daughter’s nursery. Are you drawn to making children’s artwork because of being a parent, or did you start making children’s items for other reasons?
The Mariposa series was entirely inspired by my daughter. I made the first one (Punakaki) thinking it would stop there. But it was well received by family and friends, including my daughter, so I began making more until her room was covered with butterflies. My original attempt at the first one was a disaster. I tried to make the wings realistic and utterly failed. I didn’t have the painting skills to pull it off and had to abandon the wings and start over. The resulting design came out. Later I realized I had incorporated Maori tribal designs. My wife and I had been to New Zealand some years before and my sketches for them must have been floating in my subconscious
A lot of what I’ve created is for my children. Both fish tessellations were made for my son’s nursery. As I mentioned earlier, the memory games are created for them as well. Even the picture frames were created to hold pictures of the kids!
Thanks for the compliment! The only works I’ve sold have been from the Mariposa series to friends of friends who have heard of the butterflies through word of mouth. In all cases they were having a baby and wanted to use them in their nursery. I found Etsy through Internet searches and was immediately attracted to the format. I had thought about developing my own site, but I didn’t think I would be able reach enough people. Etsy is the perfect home for my work. There is definitely a sense of community here that I am attracted to.
6. What are your highest hopes for Kaptafa?
My goals for Kaptafa is to find an outlet for my work. To produce pieces that resonate with both myself and other people is satisfying. I want to discover inspiration through diverse countries and cultures and create original pieces that people cannot see anywhere else.